Our reading today is a little hard to wrap our head around in our modern politically correct world. We look back on what the Nazi’s of Germany did to people, especially Jews, and consider that horrible. We think of the genocide of Rwanda and we get angry at the taking of innocent lives. And then we read passages such as today’s we struggle to understand why God would order something so devastating.
God ordered vengeance to be taken on the Midianites. James E. Smith Old Testament scholar writes in his commentary on the Pentateuch … “”Vengeance” here does not mean revenge; it is the legitimate expression of divine authority when that authority is challenged, Israel here was to be the tool of God’s justice.” God was seeking a holy war against this people. They had tempted and lured away his people. God knew that these Israelites were not strong enough to stand against sin, so he had to eradicate it from their lives. He could not just punish them; he had to wipe them out! I realize this is a hard pill for us to swallow … reading about death and destruction ordered by God. It’s not easy, but God knew it was the only way.
While it is hard to read, I think it is an important lesson for us to learn. Whatever may take us away from complete devotion to God must be eradicated from our lives. Jesus taught this principle as well … “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut if off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Matthew 5:30 NIV. Whatever keeps you from God must be removed from your life, not merely ignored, but completely removed.
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